How Do You Know How the Letter ‘C’ Should be Pronounced?

My last post was about that tricky vowel ‘Y’. This topic leads to the question about the consonant ‘C’. Sometimes ‘C’ is pronounced as a ‘K’ and sometimes as an ‘S’. Do you know why? Do you know how to tell the pronunciation of the ‘C’ when reading an unfamiliar word? Watch my latest video to find out the answer! You will also find out why the word ‘circle’ is pronounced the way it is.

In the video I talked about assibilation. This is a linguist term that has to do with the way a sound can change. It means the sound is changed to sibilant sound. A sibilant sound is made with air flowing over the tongue and across the edge of the teeth, like the hissing sound of the letter ‘s’.  ‘C’ when it is pronounced as an ‘s’ is a good example of this process. You don’t have to understand the complicated terminology or components of linguistics to understand the concepts! You can improve your pronunciation and reading skills simply by learning to recognize a few linguistic basics, like how the vowel sound can affect a letter like ‘C’.


Successful Public Speaking

You may not know that I am also a partner in a public speaking consulting project called Ovation. We provide consulting and educcommunicateational courses to help people improve their public speaking skills. We primarily deal with native speaking English speakers, but the principals we teach are also helpful for higher level non-native speakers and really anyone that has to speak in front a few or thousands of people.

Public speaking is consistently rated as the number one fear of people. Why is that? Physiologists have targeted a number of reasons, but mostly it comes down to wanting to look one’s best in front of other people. We know that when we are in an audience we are either consciously or unconsciously judging the speaker, what they are saying or not saying, how they look and even how they present themselves. When everyone is focused on you, looking and listening to you, it can be scary. Your heart starts to beat faster, your palms sweat, your hands and knees tremble, your mind races and your mouth goes dry. These reactions are primitive stress-fear related and do not help you out at all when you need to speak, but rather make it more difficult for you to relax and deliver your message.

The key to successful public speaking starts way before you stand up to speak. Good preparation not only ensures that you have something meaningful and interesting to share, but gives you the confidence that will help calm your nerves. Learning tips and techniques to speak clearly, concisely and fluidly go a long way, but confidence and calmness under the stress and pressure that comes with the demands of public speaking makes the difference between a not-so-bad speaker and an outstanding speaker.

The next time you have to speak in front of any number of people try this: A minute before you begin to speak, stop, take 3 deep breaths and exhale slowly, close your eyes and relax your shoulder and jaw muscles, open your eyes smile and think about something happy and positive. This simple and quick exercise relaxes and prepares your body to speak. By breathing deeply, more oxygen gets to your brain and helps you think better. It helps your muscles to relax, making it easier for you to speak and pronounce words. Finally, smiling and thinking positive instantly makes you look more attractive to others.

Check out Ovation Public Speaking with online courses powered by UDEMY:

6 Keys to Fluency: 4. Think in English

Constantly going back to your native language in your mind to translate can be a huge barrier to becoming fluent.  In this video blog post, I will discuss how you can learn to think in English in 4 steps.  In this way, you can better train your brain to not rely on translating words as you speak, write or listen to them.  While mental translation may be necessary when first learning a language, it becomes a distraction as you progress beyond the initial stages and can prevent you from mastering one.

Vocabulary Course Release & Special Discount

I am excited to announce that my new course is finally live on the UDEMY website! My special new course is vocabulary-centered.  It features 100 important vocabulary words that every English speaker should know, whether you have been speaking English all of your life or are an English second language learner.  Besides just presenting and teaching 100 words, this course also features live video lectures on learning vocabulary intuitively, word structure and word patterns. The course curriculum has downloadable materials, online resources, and interactive quizzes. So in reality, this course doesn’t just teach you 100 words, it teaches you how to keep learning new words.

In designing and producing this course, my intention was to make it affordable and accessible (one of the reasons I like using UDEMY).  The regular price of the course is $29, however I am pleased to announce a special discount for my Aaron’s English Page fans.  Use this link: to get the course at LESS THAN HALF PRICE for $14.  Share this code with your friends, but keep in mind that the quantity is limited and it is only available for a limited time.

vocab power 100
Vocabulary Power 100

One of the reasons I decided to make this course was because I noticed a need for quality instruction that did not focus on boring memorization of vocabulary words.  It is very difficulty to improve your English, or any language, that way.  In order to actually be able to make new words a part of your speaking and writing, they must be part of an internal word bank in your brain that can be accessed quickly, without thinking too hard about it.  In my teaching of English, I use an intuitive methodology.  That really just means learning by using.  I have found this is the easiest, quickest and all around most effective way of speaking fluently, learning grammar and usage or vocabulary (even if it is for a language you have been speaking all of your life).  Because everyone is has their own unique learning style, a multi-approached method of presenting new information targets different areas of learning to make a mental connection.

Try this:  The next time you learn a new word, try an intuitive method.  Here are few ideas:

  • Listen to or read a word in its natural setting– examine the context.
  • Write the new word down, and make a sentence using it correctly.
  • Say the new word– focus on correct pronunciation and then use it in conversation.
  • Find a picture or an object that illustrates the word.
  • Make a mental note every time you hear, see or use the new word.

Improving English Conversation Skills

In this post, I thought I would focus on helping non-native English speakers with a cconversationommon problem, conversation.  I found during my recent visit to China many people could speak or understand some English, but were hesitant to engage in English conversation.  I hear this from my students too, although some have taken English classes for years, they still have trouble with conversation.  How can this be overcome?

While each student may have things they find particularly difficult with English conversation, I have put together a list of ways to help students.  These ideas can help even if you can only speak a little bit of English, or you have been learning for years.  Actually, some of these pointers might even be helpful for someone that has been speaking English all of their life, but has difficulty expressing themselves in conversation.  Work on these things one or two items at a time, until you are successful.

  • Don’t translate in your head, this takes too much time. Also, don’t be trying to think about what you will say next.  Listen closely to the speaker, or you may miss valuable information.
  • Being nervous or lacking confidence can harm your abilities. Relax. Have a positive attitude.
  • Put your brain to work, even if you don’t understand all of what is being said, try to figure it out. Don’t just give up or ignore things you don’t understand. Each conversation is a learning experience.
  • Use simple language, don’t try to use complicated vocabulary during conversation.
  • Learn a list of useful phrases commonly used in conversation, instead of individual words.
  • Communicate ideas. Try to work on understanding the main point and being understood. Focus on the meaning rather than the actual word usage.
  • Conversation is more than words.  Don’t be afraid to use body language and emotion to figure out what is being said or to help listeners better understand you.
  • Don’t focus on grammar rules while talking, it will distract you.  Focus on the point you are trying to make, don’t worry about making mistakes.
  • Pay attention to the rhythm of the language.  Listen for stress and intonation (see last week’s post) as keys to what is being said.  Learn how to use these tools.
  • If you make a mistake, or don’t know what to say or was said, don’t be afraid of correcting yourself or saying that you don’t know the word. Most listeners are glad to help you out. Don’t be afraid to laugh at your mistakes.
  • Listen to native speakers as much as possible. Learn what sounds right.
  • Use every opportunity to converse. Practice!